Album of the Week: M83 - Fantasy | 2023 Week 11
Nine albums in, M83 are at their dreamy, exploratory, intimate best on their most personal album to date + new records from 100 Gecs, Moderat, Yves Tumor, Alison Wonderland and more
For over two decades, Anthony Gonzalez has invited us into his world as M83 as both a founding and now sole member of the beloved French electronic music project. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire is showing no signs of slowing down on his epic ninth album Fantasy, a record that sees him inject a number of styles and influences into the signature dreamy sounds we’ve come to know and love.
In a surprise move, Gonzalez had already unveiled the first half of the record last month, allowing us to see how lead singles Oceans Niagara and Amnesia would fit into the record’s A side. Immediately evident upon first listen to Chapter 1 was the diversity of tempos and broader genres of each song, while still maintaining a very cohesive sonic palette, increasing excitement for how the second half of the album would play out.
Album opener Water Deep sets the scene as an atmospheric ambient piece with soft guitar strums and vast, sweeping synths, almost acting as an extended intro for the hypnotic and driving Oceans Niagara. Amnesia switches things up with it’s rollicking, new wave infected indie sounds before Us And The Rest slows things down again.
Earth To Sea sees Gonzalez really ramp the euphoria up on this 80s-esque nearly 7 minute epic before allowing us to catch our breaths on the spacious, reverberated guitar and piano ballad Radar, Far Gone.
The second half of the record kicks off with another epic cut, one of five on the thirteen track album that weighs in at over six minutes. Deceiver lives up to its name, opening with nearly 3 minutes of swirling, oscillating synths that build tension before giving way to a groove laden beat and neo-psych guitars. The album’s title cut Fantasy is up next and once again switches things up, keeping the groove but taking up into high energy disco vibes, complete with pan pipes.
The soaring indie pop of Laura is next, followed by galloping, upper tempo synth pop sounds with a sing-a-long inducing chorus on Sunny Boy. Kool Nuit almost feels like a sister track to Deceiver with its epic intro and lengthy runtime, but this time we’re treated to almost krautrock sounds in the track’s second half. The second last track on the album is almost an ambient synth redux of track 10, being Sunny Boy Part 2, before the majestic, slow building emotional closer, the delightfully titled Dismemberment Bureau.
When it came to creating Fantasy, Gonzalez explains that the album’s direction was immediately clear: “I wanted this record to be very impactful live," he says. "The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of [third studio album] Before The Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones."
He also sought to continue a trend that had emerged over his recent records saying "I wanted to be more present lyrically and vocally even if that was daunting at first. I thought if I could achieve that, this album will be more personal than those that came before."
As we can hear on Fantasy, he's managed to achieve this goal on an album that’s awe-inspiring and lavish while also being incredibly intimate as Gonzalez invites us into his personal musical world.
M83's new album Fantasy is out now via Virgin Music Australia
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The best of the rest of this week's records:
100 gecs - 10,000 gecs [Atlantic / Warner] USA
Electronic / Pop
Alison Wonderland - Loner (Remixes) [EMI / Universal] AUS
Flyying Colours - You Never Know [Poison City Records] AUS
Rock / Indie
Genevieve Artadi - Forever Forever [Brainfeeder] USA
Jazz / Pop
Kamal. - so here you are, drowning [Neighbourhood Recordings / Virgin Music Australia] ENG
Moderat - EVEN MORE D4TA [Monkeytown Records] GER
Princess Nokia - i love you but this is goodbye [Sony] USA
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - V [Jagjaguwar] NZL
Yves Tumor - Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) [Warp] USA